Talk about that twist! Written and directed by Rowan Joffre, Before I Go to Sleep focuses on forty-year-old Christine Lucas (Nicole Kidman) who wakes up in a bed beside a man she does not recognise. The unknown man, Ben (Colin Firth) tells her that he is her husband and that she had an accident ten years ago that caused her to suffer from amnesia – every morning she wakes up with no memory of her life onwards from her twenties. With the help of Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong), Christine tries to reconstruct her memories, discovering who she is and the events that led to her accident.
Based on the 2011 novel written by S.J Watson, Before I Go to Sleep uses a thrilling premise of an amnesia victim forced to relieve each day anew, with no recollection of their current life. This clever, though overused, narrative device helps generate a good suspense film, however, Joffre uses too many thriller cliches that makes the film dreary and unoriginal. The entire first act is designed to make the audience solve the mystery surrounding Christine’s illness and establishes the unravelling of the final act – and boy, what a thrilling twist it was.
While the surprising revelation was admittedly too familiar and obviously been executed before, Joffre utilises just the perfect amount of suspense to keep the viewers alert, even interested. Unfortunately, the film is sleek and uneasy and Joffre leaves little room for character development; Christine does not ponder about her surroundings and how aspects of present day are significantly different to ten years ago. However, this allows the character to focus on her aim to determine the details of her life.
What was instantaneously interesting was Kidman’s dramatic turn as the vulnerable and suspecting Christine; she relives each day without fail. Teaming up once again after last year’s The Railway Man, Firth shows this capability to play complex characters. Known for his portrayal of respectable characters, Firth reveals that his acting prowess can produce more than the handsome, standoffish Mr. Darcy that his is well-known for.
With recent films such as Gone Girl, marriage based thriller films are becoming increasingly popular. Films like these challenge the social perception of marriage, and adding a psychological element helps bring a fascinating view on the subject matter.
Before I Go to Sleep is entertaining to watch, but the conclusion lets the whole film down in what could have been a thrilling, twisted resolution.
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